Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Plug, Jan

2nd Supervisor

Mooney, Kevin



This thesis interrogates Michel Foucault’s distinction between the monument and the document in his key methodological text The Archaeology of Knowledge (1972), originally released in French as L’Archéologie du Savior in 1969. Foucault attempts to formulate a new form of history based on the examination of the monument, where previous methodologies had examined the document.

The thesis first examines Foucault’s theorization of this distinction and then questions the stability of these two categories through the comments of art critic Erwin Panofsky. I propose that the monument and document distinction implicates the historian in the power-relations that Foucault articulates later in his career. I attempt to locate some capability within Foucault’s methodology for resisting power relations by asking if anything resists his hermeneutic. Finally, I examine Foucault’s position in discourse through his own terms leading me to propose an alternative to the hegemonic episteme of history, which Foucault himself foreshadows.